Thoughts on Stevia

I have been curious and and reluctant about Stevia, a natural zero calorie sweetener, for the past few years. The research has been very positive and many foreign countries have used it for years but I'm always leery to try something new.

I’ve been hearing of more and more people that are using it, including a neighbor of mine, so I decided to take the plunge and give it a try.

I purchased the 100% pure powder form from the company Wisdom Of The Ancients, Sweet Leaf. Amazon sells a 25 gram bottle for $9.83 (which is equal to 500 cups of sugar).

Stevia is sold 3 different ways due to help balance the negative aspects of the product. It is sold as 100% pure powder form, powder form sold with various fillers and a liquid concentrate. The first negative (and positive) aspect is it is extremely potent- 300 times sweeter than sugar (1/2 tsp. equals 1 cup of sugar). Just a little too much added to a recipe and it spoils the entire batch. To help make measuring easier, several companies have added bulking agents to dilute it a little. There is a lot of discussion on which fillers are safest but overall most believe if you are buying Stevia with a filler, by one with FOS (fructooligosaccharide) or fiber added.

The second problem with Stevia is if you use too much the final product will taste bitter. The liquid Stevia seems to have less of a bitter problem than the powder form. However the powdered form is more versatile and one can make their own liquid form from the pure powder.

I’ve done several experiments with it so far and have been very pleased with the results. It is easiest to add it to liquid drinks so you can taste and adjust the sweetness and baking is the most difficult because you can’t taste the results until it’s too late to adjust.

So far baked goods made with Stevia as its only sweetener have been challenging but baked goods with sugar cut in half and a little Stevia added have been fantastic.

I’m determined to find a few ways to reduce the amount of sugar we consume and cut our calories. I’m not a fan of aspartame as it acts as an excitotoxin in our bodies just like msg so I’m thrilled to find a great, natural alternative to experiment with.

I’ll start posting the recipes I’ve had success with shortly. If you want to learn more about Stevia and how to use it, Stevia by Rita DePuydt is a great book with some helpful tips and ideas.


Nurse Heidi said...

I'm very curious to see you recipes with this. I looked at some varieties available at Smith's - the had liquid, tablets with some binders (obviously) and powder (also with some fillers). None of the pure powder, and I'm not sure if the liquid was as puer as the stuff you're using.

gr said...

Can you recommend any cookbooks for diabetics?
Thanks, you have a very nice blog.

Also I have been using the instant yeast that is added to the dry ingredients when making bread. It appears that you advise against this product.

Emily said...

Hello! Thank you for the kind words. Unfortunately I don't have any recommendations for cooking for diabetics, I have little experience in that area.

For baking breads I choose dry active yeast over instant yeast simply because those who are also hypersensitive to MSG do well with dry active yeast (all yeast will have some free glutamate, but this kind has the least amount).

Professional bakers interchange the two varieties- some like the dry active yeast others prefer the convenience of the instant yeast.

From an MSG perspective, it's important to stay away from rapid rise yeast.

If you are not MSG sensitive, I'd suggest you continue to use what you are comfortable with. To convert my recipes over to instant yeast, use 25% less (1 tsp. dry active yeast equals 3/4 tsp. instant yeast).

Thanks, Emily